Families across Yorkshire have been evacuated after severe flooding causes misery and chaos, forcing some people to sleep in shopping centres overnight.
A total of 116 flood warnings are in place, mostly in Yorkshire, including five severe flood warnings – indicating a danger to life.
This morning, Doncaster Council has warned some residents to evacuate their homes because the River Don is breaching its banks near St Oswald Church at Kirk Sandall.
The council tweeted: “There is a Severe Flood Warning in place for Sandal Grove, Old Kirk Sandall. Residents in these areas are advised to evacuate immediately.”
Around 25 homes in Worksop were also evacuated due to the risk of flooding.
Damien West, head of prevention and protection at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, tweeted: “In Worksop with crews who are working tirelessly to rescue a large number of people from flooded premises. A very long, cold and hard working night.”
On Thursday, 35 homes were evacuated as a precaution in Mansfield after a mudslide in the area, while hundreds of people were kept inside Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre due to flooded roads and gridlocked traffic outside.
The weather has also caused train services to be cancelled and Northern Rail issued a “do not travel” warning to commuters using three routes, saying flooding had closed the lines between Sheffield and Gainsborough, Sheffield and Lincoln and Hebden Bridge and Manchester Victoria.
One contractor described the rain in South Yorkshire as “not far from biblical”.
Sheffield was one of the worst-hit places with a number of roads left impassable to traffic, cars stranded in floodwater and gridlock resulting on many routes.
Concerns have been raised about the levels of rivers running through the city, with the city council closing Millhouses Park, where a 14-year-old boy was swept to his death in the River Sheaf during the devastating floods in the city in 2007.
Meadowhall, which flooded in 2007, had to cancel its Christmas Live event at the last minute on Thursday night, but after many of the thousands of people expected to attend had arrived.
While many of those inside managed to leave despite a partially flooded car park, some were forced to spend the night in the shopping centre, according to police.
With many surrounding routes flooded and trams stopping short of the complex due to “heavy rain putting the Tinsley tram bridge at risk”, gridlock led to police advising shoppers and concert goers to stay in the building.
It said in a statement: “Due to the adverse weather and the subsequent impact on the public transport it is with regret that the Christmas Live event has been cancelled.”
Trams were also stopped short of the complex by the M1 motorway due to “heavy rain putting the Tinsley tram bridge at risk”.
The firm said that roads are also closed in the corresponding areas, meaning “customers should not attempt to travel”.
Further north, concerns were growing in the Calder valley as river levels began to rise on Thursday. Precautionary flood barriers were put in place in Mytholmroyd, which was badly hit in the 2015 Boxing Day floods.
Chris Wilding, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency, said: “Heavy rain could lead to surface water and river flooding across parts of northern England today and into tomorrow, particularly in parts of Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, and Derbyshire and Lincolnshire.
“Persistent showers may also bring localised river and surface water flooding to parts of southern England today and tomorrow.
“Our incident rooms are open and we are working closely with local authorities and partners to reduce the risk of flooding. Our field teams are ready to deploy temporary flood barriers to help protect people and property if needed.
“We advise people to stay away from swollen rivers and not to drive through flood water as just 30cm of flowing water is enough to move your car.”
Rainfall was ‘almost biblical’, says residents
Residents in the village of Toll Bar near Doncaster, which was hit by severe flooding in June 2007, have told how “almost biblical” rain came down on Thursday.
Post Office worker Kathleen Overton said: “It must have started at around 9am yesterday when I was taking my grandson to school, and then it just didn’t stop.
“At one point the water was coming right over my doorstep, and my daughters and I were worrying that it was going to come into the house.”
The 61-year-old added: “People’s cars were getting submerged in the water, gardens were ruined, you couldn’t drive anywhere. It was carnage.”
Another resident, Roy Kerr, 71, said that without the help of young volunteers who put down sandbags and pumped out water, the situation could have been even worse.
He said: “It wasn’t as bad as it was in 2007, but it easily could have been if it wasn’t for those lads.”
Month’s worth of rain falls in 24 hour period
Parts of England have endured a month’s worth of rain in just 24 hours.
4.4in of rain fell in Swineshaw in the Peak District on Thursday – the highest total of anywhere across England – an Environment Agency (EA) rain gauge revealed.
Flood-hit parts of Sheffield experienced 3.4in during the same period.
The average monthly rainfall total for Yorkshire at this time of year is 3.5in, although forecasters have predicted that the worst of the rain is now over.
Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said: “Some places have seen a month’s worth of rain in one day.
“The rain is easing and moving south but obviously the impact of that will continue to be felt.”
Tracks flooded as train delays and disruption to set to continue
Travel disruption looks set to continue for most of the day, with photos released by London North Eastern Railway revealing submerged tracks between Leeds and Doncaster.
According to National Rail, all lines between Doncaster and Sheffield, as well as Wakefield Westgate and Sheffield via Moorthorpe, are currently blocked.
CrossCountry trains will be diverted via Barnsley where possible, and will be unable to call at Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate.
Shoppers stranded overnight in Meadowhall
Shoppers and concert goers were forced to spend the night in Meadowhall’s food court until 7am.
Saskia Hazelwood, 17, from Doncaster, said she was among those stranded.
She said: “When we got to Meadowhall it was very hectic and we heard about the flooding and saw the river about to burst.
“Our trains were then cancelled so we went to get food, then spoke to the police and security and they told us it was unsafe to leave and there was no way of getting in or out.
“So we instantly started panicking and, when we found out there was no way of getting home, we went into Primark and all bought spare clothes and we bought food and drinks to keep us going throughout the night.
“We were in M&S for a while on the sofas until they closed the store, and we were then moved to the Oasis food quarter. We were there until 7am.
“We were provided with free refreshments throughout the night and morning but it was certainly not enough. We had to basically camp out in the food area until they finally got a taxi to us at 7am.
“None of us had slept for over 24 hours. We were very tired, stressed and, of course, our families were panicking and kept keeping in touch.”
Travel chaos as passengers warned not to travel
Thousands of commuters face mayhem as torrential rain causes disruption on the transport network in parts of England.
Several rail lines are blocked due to flooding and train operators are warning passengers not to travel on a number of routes through Yorkshire and the North West.
This includes lines from Sheffield to destinations such as Leeds via Moorthorpe, Lincoln, Doncaster and Goole.
Trains are also unable to run on routes such as Manchester Piccadilly-Cleethorpes, Leeds-Doncaster and Hebden Bridge-Rochdale.
Rail replacement bus services are not being provided due to road closures and unsafe driving conditions.